“You can’t go across the Tennessee, and win.”
That is the quote Nash Faught, my color commentator, and many other Creek Wood faithful kept repeating after Friday night.
The Lady Red Hawks were defeated 4-2 in their sectional game on the road at Lexington.
The final score won’t be the talking point though.
Neither will the five scoreless innings Creek Wood put up at the plate.
No, that quote, and the dreaded name, according to so many, of Lexington High School will all live on thanks to what happened in the final inning and a half.
The Lady Tigers led 3-0 entering the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth, with no outs, Zoe Cooper did what she had struggled to for weeks; she got on base.
With no outs and the top of the lineup at the plate, the Lady Red Hawks finally felt like something was going their way.
Unfortunately, Cooper got overzealous and overextended herself getting caught in a rundown.
Now it was one out and back to bases empty.
No worries though. The top of the order did its job.
A lineup as good one through six as we have seen in Dickson County in many years, they came alive.
Kendal Bryant, Hannah Albert, Kenzie Mann, and Elizabeth Martin all did their job and created positive plays.
Ultimately when the final out of the top of the sixth came and went, it was 3-2 Creek Wood trailing with all the momentum in their direction.
Worth noting here, before we continue you, if Zoe Cooper is not caught in that rundown, it is more than likely 3-3 entering the bottom of the sixth.
I say that because what comes next, was heartbreaking and infuriating enough, down a run, much less tied.
Lexington is a great squad. They were hosting a sectional for a reason.
The Lady Tigers battled and put themselves in a decent situation.
Two outs, two runners on, at first and second.
A hard hit ground ball back up the middle, Zoe England does her best to glove it.
She fails, however, her dive keeps the ball in the infield and sitting in the dirt a foot or two from the second base bag.
Shortstop Kendal Bryant is in the right place, at the right time, and makes a heads-up play to plant her right foot on the bag and pick up the softball.
The infield umpire standing over second base emphatically punches the runner out, inning over.
Or is it?
The Lady Red Hawks are all in their dugout when both coaches for Lexington come charging out to argue the call.
This is where it begins to unravel.
First, the same infield umpire who made the call, not fifteen seconds earlier changes it to safe.
Next, they have a discussion and not only decide that everyone is safe, but that a run crossed.
Yes, you read that accurately.
On what initially is ruled a dead ball and a third out, it is changed to an everyone is safe AND a runner scored.
Now you have effectively ripped all the momentum away from the Lady Red Hawks by not only doubling their deficit but forcing them to return to the field.
They had already gotten set up and pumped up to bat, down a run with momentum.
Now, Creek Wood has to return to the field, in a two out and two runners on situation, trailing 4-2.
The most egregious part of the situation, however, follows now.
After getting out of that situation, without further damage, we go to break on the broadcast.
During the break, I inquired with the Crew Chief, the umpire behind the plate, about the call.
Obviously, I made clear I had no argument, simply wanted an explanation so I could relay it to listeners.
He looked me in the eyes and said “I don’t know, I wasn’t involved.”
Folks, this is a sectional game, with three umpires, for a chance to go to the state tournament.
Even if he saw nothing, as the crew chief, he has to get involved.
Again, even if he saw nothing, meaning he has no opinion or way of influencing the call itself, he has to receive and be able to relay an explanation from his guys.
Like a Head Coach, a GM, an Owner, etc. he ultimately is responsible for everything called on that field.
Does he trust his guys? Absolutely, and he should.
He still has to be involved.
Especially on controversial, season-altering calls.
As you would expect the Lady Red Hawks fell flat in the top of the seventh.
All their momentum was ripped away.
Creek Wood came up short going to West TN, again, and now will have to wait another year.
The good news is, that they are extremely young.
Bryant and Martin are freshmen.
Lily Killebrew, Zoe England, and Zoe Cooper are sophomores.
The Lady Red Hawks get back Tate Pernell and Allie Bradford as well.
That is seven of your nine sectional starters in some form or fashion.
Yes, losing both Reagan and Hannah Albert sucks.
Kenzie Mann leaves a huge hole to fill.
Nancy Jackson has done it before though, and she can do it again.
It just seems unfair though.
To see a team with the right mix of upper and underclassmen.
Who got hot, built chemistry, and were playing their best at the right time, derailed by bad calls.
Anything can happen next year.
Let’s just hope they avoid having to go West.